Mapping the Customer Experience: Answers to 7 Common CX Questions

Max Kenkel
Max Kenkel

customer communicating positive experience

In my role, I float back and forth between front of house (strategy and sales) and back of house (operations). This means I get to bring the voice of our clients back to our internal teams on a pretty regular basis.

Which got me thinking: Why don’t I bring the voice of our clients to you? More specifically, I’d like to share some of the questions they’ve been asking and contingencies they’re trying to solve for as everyone is starting to pump the gas. So, here we go.

Client Question #1: Hey Max, I get pitched on customer experience (CX) about five times a day. How is ITA Group different than every other company pitching me on CX?

Great question. I’ll be succinct:

  1. We take an enterprise view, not just a singular problem view (although we can easily address point in time solutions to specific problems). A lot of what people perceive as problems are really outcomes.
  2. We are an engagement company. We provide integrated engagement solutions that uniquely motivate and inspire customer behavior in the moment, transforming their entire buying experience at each touchpoint and making you the go-to choice over the competition.
  3. We use data to guide us to the right tool(s) for your business. We can create segmented content to reinforce the specific value you provide to customers and drive a stronger ROI and increased lifetime value from the audience for your brand.

Client Question #2: That sounds really nice. But our company is a cluster of silos and disparate technology. How do you even begin to take an “enterprise view” with a situation like ours?

I’d love to say we have a magic wand we waive and “Reducto” your problems are reduced to nothing. But the secret spell involves much more than an incantation and wishful thinking—we thoroughly map out everyone’s journey by using our experience map.

client brand experience map


Probably not a huge surprise for anyone in marketing or sales, this is a pretty generic view of each customer journey. The difference ITA Group brings to the table is we take a more three dimensional view of this map.

  1. The first dimension is the journey steps themselves. It’s in a general order for each audience, but it’s also a bit of a timeline. While you’re seeing them from left to right, we know this isn’t always a linear experiences. Each stop along the map showcases the journeys for the Brand, the Consumer, the Employee and the Channel.
  2. The second dimension is time. In the image above, note that the consumer audience doesn’t even start their journey until the Brand, Channel and Employees are in place and ready to transact.
  3. The third dimension is depth. Imagine there are parts of the journey that each audience type continue to go down over and over: New marketing and in-market tactics from the brand. New purchases for the customer. New transactions for the channel. New roles for the employee.

Our number one goal is to help our client brands get more people into their funnel, their journey, and then get them through it quicker, and more frequently. That’s how we extend lifetime value.

Client Question #3: Okay; but, can you show me an example?

Yep! Let’s say your company is “enjoying” customer attrition at an alarming clip. That’s the opposite of extending lifetime value. Instead of creating value, the brand is now bleeding revenue in the form of lost customers, lower lifetime value and misaligned acquisition costs.

example of consumer retention issue

A lot of brands in this instance might jump straight to throwing a customer loyalty program out there—or some sort of promotion targeting the customer to stay.

But we know almost always that the attrition is due to bad customer experience, which isn’t the problem, it’s the result of some other problem upstream.

Here are two quick examples of upstream problems that result in base customer experience:

1. Employees aren’t engaged or empowered, which leads to providing bad experiences in store

example of unengaged employees providing bad experiences

2. Channel partners are giving bad installs

example of channel partners providing bad experience

Either one of those might make a customer jump brands.

In the short term, we’ll help you triage your program with a reactivation campaign or perhaps an apology program (if that’s what’s needed), while working to address the root causes of your business issues. Otherwise, you’re just putting a band aid on a severed limb. So we can act like the EMT for our clients who are bleeding revenue and customers, but then we can also put a plan in place to treat the real problem, and help them through the rehab to come out of their issues stronger than ever.

Client Question #4: Can you show me a visual of how you’ve helped another client?

Absolutely. Here’s something we helped visualize for a client who was very siloed when we started working with them.

cx buyer journey example

We were able to map out all of their audiences and show them, visually, where the overlap was occurring, at what juncture in the customer journey, and more importantly, stress that the customer doesn’t care about your silos. I’ll reiterate that: The customer doesn’t care about your silos.

By mapping this out—and researching each audience—we were able to pull five business units with seven seemingly disparate programs together (two channel programs, a credit card financing program and four consumer initiatives) under one umbrella. We also extended value for each audience, helped our client steal market share and show a unified front to each audience.

Client Question #5: You talked about research. We do all sorts of research. Why do we need more, and can’t you use our existing stuff?

Maybe we can use what you’ve done. We always want to start there. But the type of research we are conducting is focused to understand what each audience needs to increase their engagement with your brand. At a high level, here’s the things we want to understand about each audience.

Customers

  • Segmentation – We need to know the most valuable segments because we want to treat them differently, squeezing as much out of them as we can for your brand
  • Path to Purchase – How do they want to buy? What expectations do they have from your brand? How do we amp that experience? Help your brand meet them wherever they are in the journey?
  • Journey Mapping – We’ll map out step by step what the customer experience is
  • Brand Studies & Trackers – What’s the perception of your brand vs. competition?
  • Design – What are the hard and soft benefits we need to offer your customers to help make sure that when it’s time to buy, they are always choosing your brand
  • Predictive Modeling & Business Case Development – We’ll help you project what the solution will deliver, in terms of increased lifetime value, and ROI

Employees

  • EngageFX – baseline employee sentiment, but also gather insight into what actions need to happen today to turn your culture around
  • Culture Assessment – A combination of qualitative and quantitative work to get a true picture of your brand’s culture, and align it to your objectives
  • Journey Mapping – We’ll map out step by step what the employee experience is, and align it to the customer journey

Channel

  • Segmentation – We need to know the most valuable segments because we want to treat them differently, squeezing as much out of them as we can for your brand
  • Ideal Partner Cloning – We’ll dig in to understand what makes your best partners your best partners, and develop a plan to clone these behaviors across your entire partner audience
  • Journey Mapping – We’ll map out step by step what the channel experience is and where to improve it
  • Design – What are the hard and soft benefits we need to offer your channel partners to help make sure that when it’s time to sell, they are always selling your brand vs. competition
  • Predictive Modeling & Business Case Development – We’ll help you project what the solution will deliver in terms of increased lifetime value and ROI

Brand

  • Silo Mapping – How are your business units connected and disconnected? Where is there opportunity?
  • Solution Auditing – What tools are your business units using? How many instances? Where is there a breakdown in data? What do stakeholders need to be successful? How do you streamline processes? What can be consolidated? What can you ditch that isn’t bringing value?

Client Question #6: That sounds super expensive.

That’s not a question. And you know what happens when you start assuming. I won’t finish the quote so let’s avoid the former all together. I typically respond in three ways, or some combination of:

  1. How expensive do you think it would be to roll the dice and throw a program out there without doing this? What will you be leaving on the table because you didn’t do the diligence? For example: Someone in the field thinks the audience wants cash, but the study shows (and this has been backed up by multiple independent studies) that tangible awards drive anywhere from a 3% to 25% better performance. Not doing the diligence and just trusting the field’s gut in this case could cost your company millions in future revenues.
  2. The cost is next to/almost nothing when you consider how much you’ll be spending for a loyalty or incentive program. In a channel or employee loyalty situation it usually amounts to less than $10 per person, and in the case of CX loyalty programs targeting the entire customer base, it’s pennies or fractions of pennies per person. For example: You want to launch a program targeting two million customers and you plan to spend about $50 million annually in rewards. A study that costs $150,000 amounts to about $0.15 (let me spell that out for you: fifteen cents!) a person to be sure your $50,000,000 investment delivers.
  3. Research is how we make sure what we put in market, delivers above a benchmark. Ultimately, we’re pretty smart at ITA Group, and we’ll probably get you 70% to where you need to be without the research. But wouldn’t you much rather stand in front of the board or the shareholder committee feeling 99% certain about the investment? For example: We had a client who was hemorrhaging money and everyone thought they needed a manager promotion to try to drive more sales. We did our research, and it turned out what they really needed was a safety program. Too many employees were getting hurt, leading to bad customer experience due to lack of mastery, staffing issues and employee attrition.

Client Question #6: How do we even get started?

Every client is different, but almost always there’s an identified need like increasing the lifetime value of your customers. This need is often hindered by either a problem, or a move by a competitor that has the brand playing defense. The first step is to have a conversation about the perception of the problem or need, and make sure it’s really the problem. Pretty quickly we’ll be able to help recommend a direction to go and we’re off and running.

Client Question #7: How long will this take?

Great question. The short answer is to call Doc Brown and hop in the DeLorean to travel back in time so you can get started about three years ago—and it will never end. Since flux capacitor technology is still in its infancy, we can get temporary fixes to market in weeks or months while we work to identify and isolate the bigger, systemic problems. Oftentimes we can do our due diligence (research and design) right alongside with a build.

Every single touchpoint with your brand is your customer experience. Even your customers influence the experiences of other customers behind them in checkout, next week, next year, in five years. We can help you map out where the most critical moments of truth are and influence the outcomes in a way that sets your brand up for success.

Would love to discuss or debate this. Find me here:

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In the meantime, have you started thinking about 2022 and how you plan to integrate an urgency for customer experience into everything you do? Here’s what I will be recommending to my clients as we prepare for 2022.

Max Kenkel

Max Kenkel

Max’s favorite work pastime is looking at data and figuring out how companies can monetize it. He even does it with his band, by looking at Spotify heat maps and targeting shows in cities with higher volumes of streaming. He firmly believes that you can make a decision based on intuition, but it’s a lot easier to justify it to the shareholders when you can back it up with data. He really does like talking about leveraging data, and quoting Star Wars.